Bertrand Tavernier’s Quai d’Orsay is a deliciously brainy comedy. It takes place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where young Arthur Vlaminck (Raphaël Personnaz) gets hired as a speechwriter for Minister Alexandre Taillard de Worms. The film is based a very successful French comic book series. Taillard de Worms is based on Dominique de Villepin who was France’s Foreign Affairs Minister between 2002-2004, and then Prime Minister. Played with gusto by French star Thierry Lhermitte, this character is a bombastic train wreck. An incompetent double-talker who constantly contradict himself, he enters every room slamming doors, papers flying all over the place. The Minister’s tantrums about how important it is for him to get the right highlighters, or the need to find quotes from Greek philosopher Heraclitus included in every speech are some of the highlights. Arthur receives a lot of help and support from the Chief of staff. Claude is really the person who runs the ministry. Time after time, we see him patiently trying to fix the mess created by the Minister. Niels Arestrup (Un prophète) is incredibly effective here. He calmly whispers every line, with perfect diction and enunciation. The rest of the ensemble cast is excellent. The complex world of politic is well served by an intelligent screenplay. Great fun.
You should know… The Quai d’Orsay comic book’s authors are Christophe Blain and Abel Lanzac. Lanzac’s real name is Antonin Baudry, former speechwriter for Dominique de Villepin (memorably portrayed by Samuel Labarthe in Xavier Durringer’s 2011 film La Conquête). In Quai d’Orsay, actress Julie Gayet plays a sexy counselor. In 2013 a French magazine revealed as President François Hollande’s mistress.
Quai d’Orsay (The French Minister)